Print Print

Business Strategy

BI Strategy shutterstock_133506539

A Buyer’s Guide to Business Intelligence Dashboards and Analytics Tools

More than ever, business intelligence and data analysis is the key to profitability for businesses, from small to enterprise organizations. A business intelligence solution provides the ability to gather and organize a business’s key data assets and present information derived from these assets in a form that enables business users to gain actionable insights that form the basis of smarter, fact-based decisions. Business intelligence is no longer simply an option, instead, it is critical to an organization’s competitive advantage.

The Business Intelligence Dashboard

One of the major developments that has helped automate business intelligence is the business intelligence dashboard. Good dashboards enable business unit leaders and other stakeholders to quickly and easily see what’s going on and provide information for making timely, decisions. This immediacy of information can aid even the smallest businesses in making instant, data-driven decisions – often with dramatic results.

Choosing a Dashboard

The first step in deciding on a business intelligence dashboard is to identify its purpose. Are you interested in collating and analyzing historical data to draw conclusions? Or do you want to see at a glance what’s happening today? The former, called an analytical dashboard, focuses on synthesizing and interpreting data to highlight trends and provide forecasts. A typical analytical dashboard is shown below.


Seeing what is happening today requires an operational dashboard. An operational dashboard shows immediate information, such as key performance indicators and the exact status of each. Determining your business need is the first step in deciding which dashboard will be the most effective for you.

Selecting Visualizations

The next factor to consider in creating a dashboard solution is the type of visualizations you’ll need. Almost all commercially available dashboarding and analytics software have built-in widgets, such as bar charts, trend and sparklines, gauges, etc. Some examples of basic visualizations are shown below.


If you have specialized data visualization needs, such as mapping, be sure that your proposed analytics suite can accommodate those.

Data Sources

The final major consideration in selecting a dashboard solution is where your data is being sourced from and what format it’s coming in. If you have nonstandard data or connection types, you’ll need to verify that the proposed software can accept those data and connection types.

Are You Ready to Accelerate Your Decision-Making?

Many organizations have been slow to adopt business intelligence dashboards and other analytics software because they perceive it as a difficult purchasing decision. Still, missing out on the opportunity to accelerate your decision-making ability, while making decisions more accurate and beneficial, is not the kind of opportunity you should miss out on.

To determine how business intelligence and data analysis can benefit your business, contact Doug Askam, Sean McBride, Bob Tinglestad or Tim Deskin at 303-740-9400.